Everything You Need To Know About The A’s & River Cats 2013 Rosters

Ezra Shaw

This week we learned that shortstop Stephen Drew had agreed to a deal with the Red Sox and would not be returning to the A’s, and that the A’s would be filling their hole at shortstop by signing Japanese import Hiroyuki Nakajima. With the A’s new shortstop in the fold, it looks like their work is essentially done for the off-season and that the major league roster, barring any unforeseen (yet inevitable) injuries, is pretty much set. But it also looks like the Triple-A roster at Sacramento may be pretty much set at this point too. So earlier this week, I offered a complete rundown of the likely 2013 A’s and River Cats rosters on my Athletics Farm blog, but if you missed it there, you can get your complete rosterbation fix right here on Athletics Nation...

Below you’ll find my rundown of the anticipated A’s and River Cats opening day rosters for 2013, barring any unexpected deals or injuries, as of this point in time almost 3 ½ months before opening day. Any changes at this point are likely to be minor, especially where the major league roster is concerned. I’d expect any changes to most likely come from potential moves involving some of the minor league pitchers or infielders.

The only alteration I’ve made from the original post on my site is concerning the situation at second base with likely contenders Jemile Weeks and Scott Sizemore. It’s been suggested that Scott Sizemore may be out of options, and if that’s the case, then that could definitely have an effect on the decision to be made at that position. I originally expected the A’s to give former #1 draft pick Weeks the first shot at reclaiming the job. But if Sizemore is out of options, then I’d expect the A’s would be likely to give him the first shot at winning the job. So without any further ado, let’s go around the horn and discuss where things stand at every position for both the A’s and the River Cats…

2013 OAKLAND A’S

As far as the 2013 A’s go, catcher and first base are two positions that are pretty clearly set. Right-handed hitter Derek Norris and left-handed hitter George Kottaras will make up the A’s catching tandem. This likely won’t be a strict platoon though, as the A’s view Norris as their catcher of the future. I’d expect Norris to get between 350-400 at-bats, with Kottaras getting somewhere between 200-250 at-bats – of course, performance on the field could have a big effect on playing time behind the plate. The first base platoon of Brandon Moss and Chris Carter will remain in place in 2013. This should be a pretty strict left/right platoon, unless Moss regresses and Carter starts coming on strong, in which case the big right-hander could end up stealing some at-bats from Moss.

Second base may represent the biggest question mark on the A’s roster. Jemile Weeks and Scott Sizemore both stand a decent chance of claiming the starting job, while prospect Grant Green appears to be a long shot. If Sizemore is definitely out of options, then that should give him the first shot at winning the job – though we should remember that he is coming back from an injury that sidelined him for a solid year and will be competing at a position that he hasn’t played much over the past two years. If Sizemore doesn’t impress in the spring or Weeks looks like he’s ready to regain the form that caused the A’s to label him as "untouchable" in trade talks during the previous off-season, then Weeks could reclaim the job. If he doesn’t look any different than he did for most of last year though, then Weeks will probably find himself back at Sacramento with Green, waiting for the phone to ring.

Your 2013 starting shortstop will be Hiro Nakajima, with Adam Rosales, and his guaranteed contract, most likely serving as his backup – as well as the backup at second at third. If Nakajima proves to be more of a "zero" than a "Hiro," then Rosales could step in and start getting more at-bats at short. Josh Donaldson will be the starting third baseman unless and until he proves that his second-half surge last season was just a fluke. If that happens, then Sizemore could step in at third, with Weeks at second.

In the outfield, the A’s have five players (Cespedes, Reddick, Crisp, Smith and Young) to fill the three outfield spots as well as the designated hitter spot in the lineup. Those four positions should offer up about 2400 at-bats, which would mean there’s close to 500 at-bats to go around for each of them – that’s if they’re all healthy. Of course, they won’t all be healthy. I’d guess that at just about any point in the season, one of them will be dinged up enough to, if not warrant a stint on the DL, at least warrant a little time out of the lineup. So I wouldn’t spend too much time worrying about who plays where and when. I suspect it’ll work itself out one way or another and we’ll end up seeing plenty of all of them in the starting lineup.

As for the starting rotation, it’s important to remember that Bartolo Colon will be suspended for the first five games of the season and that the A’s will play the first seven games of the season without a day off. That means that, barring injury, Brett Anderson, Jarrod Parker, Tom Milone, A.J. Griffin and Dan Straily will open the season as the A’s starting five. Of course, there’s a reasonable chance that one of those pitchers could have some nagging injury to start the season. In that case, Colon would be ready to step into the rotation after the first week. If, miracle of miracles, all five starting pitchers are fully healthy and functioning to start the season, then Colon could always kill time in the bullpen until one of them is sidelined with a balky elbow, shoulder, rib cage, back or ear lobe. Unless there’s just no room on the roster or he really struggles early or in the spring, I think the team would like to try to keep Straily in the bigs and see what he can do.

The A’s bullpen will be a crowded place though. Aside from the possibility of Colon, there will be nine or ten legitimate contenders for the seven bullpen spots. On the right-handed side of things, Grant Balfour will be the closer and Ryan Cook will be the primary right-handed set-up man, while Pat Neshek will surely have a spot after signing a guaranteed contract, and Chris Resop is bound to get a spot after the A’s made a concerted effort to acquire him from the Pirates. That would push Evan Scribner to Sacramento.

On the left-handed side of things, Sean Doolittle and Jerry Blevins appear to be assured spots after their consistent performances throughout 2012, and Travis Blackley seems to be locked in as the long-man in the ‘pen. That would push Jordan Norberto and Pedro Figueroa to Sacramento. Of course, the odds that one of those seven relievers starts the season with some kind of injury is fairly high, which would open the door to one of those spots.

2013 SACRAMENTO RIVER CATS

If we make the preceding assumptions about the major league roster, and take into account the fact that the Triple-A roster rarely includes more than 12 hitters and rarely has any fewer than 13 pitchers, then the River Cats roster starts to fall pretty clearly into place.

The A’s acquired two experienced minor league catchers – 29-year-old Luke Montz and 27-year-old Steven Hill – who should share the catching duties at Sacramento this year. Meanwhile, veteran Daric Barton, and his non-guaranteed contract, should be standing in at first base, waiting for his chance should anything happen with Moss or Carter.

If Jemile Weeks doesn’t make the roster in Oakland, then he’ll surely be the starting second baseman at Sacramento. But if Scott Sizemore ends up at Sacramento, then I’d expect him to get the majority of the starts at second base. Andy Parrino, who was acquired from San Diego in the Tyson Ross trade, is bound to be Sacramento’s primary starting shortstop this season. I’d expect to see the versatile Eric Sogard getting most of his starts at third base this year, while also picking up a few other starts around the infield. When Sogard’s not starting at third, then fading prospect Stephen Parker is likely to get some starts at the hot corner as well.

Scott Moore, who could turn out to be the A’s most useful minor league free agent signing this off-season, can play third base, as well as first base, second base and the outfield, but will probably end up seeing a lot of at-bats as the designated hitter for the River Cats. Sacramento’s starting outfield should be made up of on-base machine Shane Peterson in left, top prospect Michael Choice in center and former top prospect Michael Taylor in right. That just leaves our old friend Grant Green, whom the organization could make the River Cats’ regular second baseman, but I’m guessing that, when it’s all said and done, they’ll end up utilizing his versatility and giving him starts all over the field – preparing him for his most likely future role with the A’s as a versatile utility man.

There are three pitchers who, as long as they’re healthy, are sure to make Sacramento’s starting rotation – top prospects Brad Peacock and Sonny Gray, along with left-hander Andrew Werner, who was acquired from San Diego in the Tyson Ross deal. The rest of the River Cats’ rotation will be filled out by two of the following four hurlers – right-handers Jesse Chavez, Bruce Billings and Travis Banwart, as well as major league veteran and minor league free agent signee Garrett Olson. Of the two who don’t make the rotation, one will likely end up as the long-man in the River Cats’ bullpen with the other either DL’d, traded or released.

Sacramento’s 2013 bullpen ought to boast an impressive array of arms who could be ready to step in and help at the major league level at a moment’s notice. If all the major league bullpen arms are healthy, then the River Cats’ ‘pen should include names like Evan Scribner, Arnold Leon, James Simmons and minor league free agent signee Mike Ekstrom from the right side and Jordan Norberto, Pedro Figueroa and minor league free agent signee Justin Thomas from the left side.

On the whole, it looks like a River Cats roster that ought to be more than ready to defend its division title and, hopefully, so should the 2013 A’s!

2013 OAKLAND A’S

--CATCHERS--

Derek Norris C

George Kottaras C

--INFIELDERS--

Brandon Moss 1B

Chris Carter 1B

Scott Sizemore/Jemile Weeks 2B

Hiroyuki Nakajima SS

Josh Donaldson 3B

Adam Rosales IF

--OUTFIELDERS--

Yoenis Cespedes OF

Josh Reddick OF

Coco Crisp OF

Seth Smith OF

Chris Young OF

--STARTING PITCHERS--

Brett Anderson LHP

Jarrod Parker RHP

Tom Milone LHP

A.J. Griffin RHP

Dan Straily RHP

--RIGHT-HANDED RELIEVERS--

Grant Balfour RHP

Ryan Cook RHP

Pat Neshek RHP

Chris Resop RHP

--LEFT-HANDED RELIEVERS--

Sean Doolittle LHP

Jerry Blevins LHP

Travis Blackley LHP

--SUSPENDED FOR 5 GAMES--

Bartolo Colon RHP

2013 SACRAMENTO RIVER CATS

--HITTERS--

Luke Montz C

Steven Hill C

Daric Barton IF

Jemile Weeks/Scott Sizemore IF

Andy Parrino IF

Eric Sogard IF

Stephen Parker IF

Scott Moore IF-OF

Grant Green IF-OF

Shane Peterson OF

Michael Choice OF

Michael Taylor OF

--STARTING PITCHERS--

Brad Peacock RHP

Sonny Gray RHP

Andrew Werner LHP

(+2 of the following 4 in the rotation with 1 in the bullpen & 1 traded or released)

Garrett Olson LHP

Jesse Chavez RHP

Bruce Billings RHP

Travis Banwart RHP

--RIGHT-HANDED RELIEVERS--

Evan Scribner RHP

Arnold Leon RHP

James Simmons RHP

Mike Ekstrom RHP

--LEFT-HANDED RELIEVERS--

Jordan Norberto LHP

Pedro Figueroa LHP

Justin Thomas LHP

You can check out my blog - Athletics Farm - for updates on the A’s minor league teams and all the top prospects down on the farm.

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